'Istanbul was blatantly made epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic again'

The COVID-19 pandemic spread 15 times over in Istanbul since February and the city was blatantly made into the epicenter of the pandemic again, Istanbul Medical Chamber (İTO) Secretary General Osman Küçükosmanoğlu said.

Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread 15 times in Istanbul since February and the city was blatantly made into the epicenter of the pandemic again as a result of prematurely relaxing restrictions, Istanbul Medical Chamber (İTO) General Secretary Dr. Osman Küçükosmanoğlu said. 

"Istanbul's cases increased from 60 per 100,000 to the 900s," Küçükosmanoğlu said. "Istanbul was blatantly made the epicenter of the pandemic again with the premature relaxation of restrictions." 

Ankara's failure to implement sufficient travel restrictions in response to the new variants of the coronavirus contributed to the spread of the pandemic in the country, Küçükosmanoğlu said. 

The government also failed to close off Black Sea provinces where the number of cases surged following mass events by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), he noted.

Istanbul no longer has vacant hospital beds, and patients who call into the 112 emergency line are forced to transfer to neighboring provinces, Küçükosmanoğlu added. 

"It's not that the government can't manage the pandemic, it's that they don't want to manage it," he said, adding that the government is waiting for herd immunity to occur via infections when they should have prioritized vaccinations.